Fantasy Football Crossroads: Cooper Kupp vs. Justin Jefferson


Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson are the consensus top two wide receivers in fantasy football entering the 2022 season. Kupp is coming off one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, while Jefferson has gotten off to one of the greatest starts to a career in NFL history.


So which wide receiver should you draft for your fantasy rosters in 2022? Let’s take a closer look.

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Justin Jefferson 2022 FTN Fantasy player bioThe Case for Jefferson

I’m not sure it is possible to start a career in a more impressive way than Justin Jefferson has. 88-1,400-7 as a rookie followed by 108-1,616-10 as a sophomore — it is clear Jefferson is already arguably the best receiver in the game. He is used all over the field, leading the league in air yards (2,071), while handling 45.7% of Minnesota’s air yards, the highest rate among all wideouts in football. Jefferson also flirted with 30% of the team targets, one of the highest rates in the league. He’s already basically elite in all facets of the game, sporting the league’s sixth-best yards per route run (2.59). As if it was possible to be even more excited about Jefferson, enter Kevin O’Connell, who was part of Cooper Kupp’s historic 2021 campaign. The Rams did a tremendous job of scheming targets to Kupp, as they lined him up in the backfield very often, giving him free releases and allowing him to make plays. I’d guess we see Jefferson used in a similar way, and with the Vikings passing rate expected to climb, don’t be surprised if Jefferson continues to break records. We have also seen the Rams offenses that O’Connell was part of hyper target the wide receiver position. This past season is a bit skewed due to Kupp’s insane usage but Los Angeles targeted receivers 61.4% of the time, which was the third-highest rate by a team since the 2018 season. It was also well above the league average of 56%. Jefferson could easily lead the NFL in targets this season and should continue to dominate the league for years to come.

Justin Jefferson 2022 Fantasy Crossroads

The Case Against Jefferson

Jefferson doesn’t also play quarterback? He doesn’t quite play 100% of the snaps?

I legitimately tried to think of a case to make against Jefferson and it is nearly impossible. If I had to come up with something, however, it would be the fact that when he is healthy, Adam Thielen has dominated end zone targets. Jefferson was second in the league with 17 end zone looks last season, but that came in a year where Thielen missed four games. Thielen has scored a healthy 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons, including 10 through the first 11 weeks of the 2021 campaign. Injuries are starting to play a factor, however, as he’s missed 11 contests over the past three seasons. But in 2020, Thielen paced all receivers in both end zone targets (20) and end zone touchdowns (13).


Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Cooper Kupp 2022 FTN Fantasy player bioThe Case for Kupp

Seriously? Did you watch football last season?

Cooper Kupp is coming off one of the greatest seasons in the history of the league, catching 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. He finished just 18 yards shy of Calvin Johnson’s single-season record (though he did it in an extra games). His 145 catches were the second-most in the history of the league and if you were facing Kupp in fantasy, it was legitimately terrifying. Kupp averaged over 25 PPR points per game, while scoring at least 20 fantasy points in all but three games. He also recorded 100 receiving yards in 11-of-17 contests, as he and quarterback Matthew Stafford were on the same page throughout the entire season. Kupp’s 159 first-read targets were the most in all of football, while posting at least a 25% target share in 15-of-17 regular season contests. The Rams have added Allen Robinson this season, but Kupp is still guaranteed to see elite volume in one of the best offenses in all of football. 

Cooper Kupp 2022 Fantasy Crossroads

The Case Against Kupp

Outside of the obvious regression that is headed Kupp’s way, there really isn’t a case to be made against him, either. Anytime a player has a season as dominant as Kupp’s 2021 campaign, you have to just expect regression, though Kupp could regress and still be the top wideout in all of fantasy. Perhaps Robinson takes away a few more targets than Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham did after Robert Woods suffered a torn ACL halfway through last season. But Kupp still averaged a gaudy 11.4 targets per game with Woods in the lineup last year.

The Verdict: Justin Jefferson

For a while, Kupp was my WR1 in fantasy. However, the more I looked into what this Minnesota offense could look like with more passing volume, the more excited I became about Jefferson, especially after how dominant he’s been to start his career. So not too long ago, I moved Jefferson ahead of Kupp as my WR1, and I am very comfortable selecting him as early as third overall in fantasy drafts. 

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